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Plant With Confidence

December 14, 2013
By: Rhonda Brooks, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor
Planter Clinic Missy PamF 2
Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer advises farmers to prioritize the planter pass and spend time this winter getting set for success.   

Prep your planter to improve corn performance

The time you invest this winter in getting your planter ready for spring won’t increase the price of corn, but it can certainly help put more dollars in your pocket.

"Remember, every 1,000 ears per acre is worth 5 bu. to 7 bu.," says Missy Bauer, Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist. "It’s pretty common to pick up several thousand ears per acre as a result of good planter setup, and that can result in significant additional revenue," she adds.

Bauer recommends setting aside several days this winter to give planters a comprehensive check-up. The following are five common parts of the planter that farmers need to evaluate.

Transmission. Look for anything that impacts how smoothly the planter runs, including chains, bearings and the main drive shaft.

"Check the alignment on the drive shaft," Bauer says. "If it’s a folding model, where it folds out, there’s usually a spot where the shafts connect with a dog-ear-type mechanism, and that needs to be in alignment. Identify potentially frozen links in chains. Consider whether bearings are going bad. Look if rollers are turning and whether idlers are worn out."

Corn College 3

Parallel arms, bolts and bushings. Bauer says to perform what she calls "the rock test" by shaking the back of the row units up and down. If there is a lot of play in the units, Bauer suggests tightening all of the bolts.

"If they’re still loose, inspect the bolts to see if the threads are worn off and replace the bolts and bushings as needed," she recommends.

If you’re unsure, replace all of the bolts and bushings on one row unit and then compare with other units.

Gauge wheel. The goal is to have no gap between the gauge wheel and disk opener. To evaluate, lift the gauge wheel as high as it would be in the field and then pull out on it.

Disk openers. Worn disk openers won’t let you to create a true "V" bottom. Check the diameter of each disk opener—Bauer allows only ½" of wear before replacing. "Be sure the point of contact is set correctly, too," she says.

Seed tubes. Remove seed tubes and make sure they aren’t broken or worn. Check the top of the tube for bent or cracked plastic that will keep the discharge chute of the seed meter from fitting into the seed tube properly. Check the middle of the tube for cracks. Bauer allows only ¼" of wear on seed-tube guards before replacing. If you replace the seed tube, replace the guard at the same time, she suggests. 

You can e-mail Rhonda Brooks at

Make Plans to Attend a Planter Clinic

Learn more about prepping your planter at a Farm Journal Corn College Planter Clinic. Our experts, including Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer, will walk through how to get your crop off to a strong start. All brands and models are included.

January 8 Murfreesboro, Tenn.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Mid-December 2013

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